Leg­endary teacher has wish ful­filled at age 96

Warragul & Drouin Gazette - - NEWS - By Emma Ballingall Judy Hall will ful­fil her dream of per­form­ing at the Melbourne Town Hall at the age of 96.

The pi­ano teacher, born and raised in Trafal­gar and a long-time res­i­dent of Moe, will per­form along­side past stu­dents and the Gipp­s­land Sym­phony Orches­tra on Sun­day, Novem­ber 18.

Orches­tra con­duc­tor David Wil­liams said Judy had made “such a foot­print across all of Gipp­s­land” in her 72 years of teach­ing.

“She’s a bit of a leg­end and in­spir­ing in a lot of ways. Mu­sic keeps her young,” he added.

When speak­ing to the Gazette about the hon­our, Judy joked “I’m a bit old to start all of a sud­den to have pub­lic­ity com­ing my way”.

Judy said an “off the cuff” com­ment in a ra­dio in­ter­view had snow­balled into City of Melbourne of­fer­ing Swanston Hall for the con­cert.

“I fool­ishly said my am­bi­tion was play­ing in the Melbourne Town Hall,” she said.

Judy has fond child­hood mem­o­ries of lis­ten­ing to clas­si­cal con­certs on ABC from Melbourne Town Hall along­side her fa­ther who was a mu­si­cian.

“It was al­ways in the Melbourne Town Hall be­cause that was the only hall or theatre that mu­si­cians had in that day.”

Mr Wil­liams said Judy was stunned and taken aback upon be­ing given a chance to ful­fil her dream.

“It’s re­ally lovely that com­plete strangers in Melbourne would even be in­ter­ested and they are re­ally keen for it to hap­pen,” he said. “So, she’s got a chance to ful­fil her dream at 96.”

“My first im­pres­sion was a force­fully de­ter­mined, ex­tremely tal­ented and gifted mu­si­cian with the un­canny abil­ity to in­spire, mo­ti­vate and teach oth­ers a love and pas­sion for life­long learn­ing of mu­sic.”

Judy’s long list of suc­cess­ful pupils speaks vol­umes for her abil­i­ties as a teacher. How­ever, she firmly puts all credit upon the stu­dents them­selves.

“What they have done is amaz­ing,” said Judy. “I’m sick and tired of tak­ing credit for them. They have worked like slaves to get where they are. You have to be very am­bi­tious, very clever and will­ing to work like work­horses, which they have done.”

Although far be­yond re­tire­ment age, Judy says “I haven’t stopped teach­ing by any means”.

She has fewer pupils but now fo­cuses on help­ing teach the next gen­er­a­tion of mu­sic teach­ers. This has fi­nally given Judy time to fo­cus on her own play­ing.

De­spite Judy stat­ing “the best teach­ers are not good play­ers…you can’t of­ten be both”, Mr Wil­liams said her mu­si­cal acu­men is as at­tuned now as it ever was.

Judy has been per­form­ing at char­i­ta­ble com­mu­nity events and re­tire­ment homes with “Judy for Friends” over many years. She also spent nu­mer­ous years ac­com­pa­ny­ing stu­dents in com­pe­ti­tions.

How­ever, Judy said per­form­ing as a con­certo – a solo pi­anist ac­com­pa­nied by an orches­tra – was a whole new ex­pe­ri­ence and one that makes her “ter­ri­bly ner­vous”.

It was also an ex­pe­ri­ence she had to wait to achieve.

“It’s quite thrilling for a pi­ano soloist with an orches­tra be­hind them. It’s beau­ti­ful mu­sic. It was al­ways my am­bi­tion…and I never did un­til 73. It was an ex­cit­ing day.”

With a few more con­cer­tos un­der her belt and the date for the Melbourne Town Hall con­cert set, Judy has been prac­tic­ing hard to per­fect a bar or two each day.

Whilst her mem­ory is not what it used to be and arthri­tis af­fects her fin­gers, she is giv­ing her all to pro­vide a won­der­ful per­for­mance.

Amongst her past pupils to fea­ture in the Melbourne Town Hall con­cert are Tim Young and Alex Waite.

Tim spent al­most a decade per­form­ing in Europe and is now head of cham­ber mu­sic at Aus­tralian Na­tional Academy of Mu­sic (ANAM).

Alex Waite joined Tim at ANAM and has per­formed in Europe, Asia and across Aus­tralia.

Judy has taught stu­dents of all ages and stages across her 72 years.

She has been a mem­ber of the Vic­to­rian Mu­sic Teach­ers As­so­ci­a­tion for 50 years as well as be­ing a life mem­ber of the La­trobe Orches­tra and the La­trobe Val­ley Eisteddfod.

She was awarded the VMTA Dis­tin­guished Teacher’s Award in 2011 and an OAM for ser­vice to mu­sic in 1996.

Other past stu­dents in­clude War­ragul’s Pamela Burnard who has worked as an ad­ju­di­ca­tor and is now a pro­fes­sor at Cam­bridge Univer­sity, Trafal­gar’s Paul Rickard-Ford who is now a se­nior pi­ano lec­turer at Syd­ney Con­ser­va­to­rium of Mu­sic and Opera Aus­tralia’s Paul Fitzsi­mon and Vanessa Scam­mell.

The Melbourne Town Hall con­cert will be on Sun­day, Novem­ber 18 at 2pm. En­try is free.

For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion, visit gipp­s­landsym­pho­ny­orches­tra.com.

Af­ter 72 years of teach­ing pi­ano, Judy Hall will ful­fil her dream of per­form­ing a con­certo at the Melbourne Town Hall on Novem­ber 18.Judy has been prac­tic­ing at her pi­ano ahead of the two-hour con­cert which will also fea­ture the Gipp­s­land Sym­phony Orches­tra and past stu­dents. Tick­ets are free to at­tend.

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